Daily Media Links 1/15: A 2012 phenomenon could be a 2016 norm: Candidates hanging around thanks to super PAC spending, ‘Activist at heart’ Ann Ravel takes gavel at FEC, and more…

January 15, 2015   •  By Scott Blackburn   •  
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Event: Citizens United v. FEC after Five Years
Should the government have the power to ban a book if it contains any political advocacy?  It took that position, until the Supreme Court ruled in Citizens United v. FEC that Congress could not take away citizen’s political speech rights when they band together in corporations and unions.  On the fifth anniversary of the Citizens United ruling, top journalists will interview a variety of experts to explore the impact of the case on politics, liberals and the future of the First Amendment.
9:00 AM: The Story Behind the Lawsuit
Michael Boos, General Counsel, Citizens United
Interviewer: TBA
9:20 AM: The Impact on Parties in the age of Citizens United: Are changes needed?
Joel Gora, Professor of Law, Brooklyn Law School
Neil Reiff, Founding partner, Sandler Reiff Lamb Rosenstein & Birkenstock, P.C.
Peter J. Wallison, Arthur F. Burns Fellow, American Enterprise Institute
10:20 AM: Should liberals support Citizens United?
Ira Glasser, former Executive Director, ACLU
Gabe Rottman, legislative counsel, ACLU
Wendy Kaminer, Author, lawyer, social critic and contributing editor of The Atlantic
Stuart Taylor, Jr., Author, freelance writer and a Brookings Institution nonresident senior fellow
11:20 AM: Beyond Citizens United: the future of campaign finance jurisprudence
Bobby R. Burchfield, Partner, McDermott Will & Emery LLP
Richard H. Pildes, Sudler Family Professor of Constitutional Law, New York University School of Law
Bradley A. Smith, Chairman and Founder, Center for Competitive Politics, Judge John T. Copenhaver Visiting Endowed Chair of Law at the West Virginia University, former FEC Chairman
Matea Gold, The Washington Post

Register at this link…


Center for Competitive Politics Reacts To Public Citizen Report
“Public Citizen’s report shows no actual evidence of any coordination between Super PACs and the candidates they support,” said Center for Competitive Politics President David Keating. ”Why is it surprising that the friend of a candidate would start a Super PAC to support that candidate? Mere suspicion is not actual evidence – it’s the stuff of a conspiracy theorists and hysterics. Fortunately, even silly claims in reports like this one are protected by the First Amendment, which also allows citizens to criticize or praise politicians through political speech. That’s a good thing and the more it occurs the stronger our Democracy becomes.”  
Independent Groups
Washington Post: In 2014, outside groups spent more than the candidates in most top races

By Jaime Fuller

When you add up total spending in the 10 toss-up Senate races tracked by the Brennan Center, non-party outside groups actually outspent candidates, 47 percent to 41 percent (parties contributed 12 percent). In only two of those top 10 races did candidates outspend outside groups and party committees.
In the Senate races in Alaska, Colorado, Iowa and North Carolina, the Brennan Center found that candidate spending accounted for one-third or less of total spending.
In those states, it was probably impossible for voters to learn anything about the Senate race during TV commercials that didn’t come second-hand — and goes a long way toward explaining why the midterms seemed to focus entirely on national issues and President Obama. The only voices being heard in most of the races came from groups created to spread awareness on national issues in as many regional arenas as possible.
Washington Post: A 2012 phenomenon could be a 2016 norm: Candidates hanging around thanks to super PAC spending
By Philip Bump
A reporter from Mother Jones who was at Huntsman’s “victory” party that night ran into Huntsman’s father, Jon Huntsman Sr. “Do you think you’ll continue supporting [your son] financially going forward, sir?” Andy Kroll asked. Huntsman’s father demurred with a smile.
Kroll asked because Huntsman Sr. had already put millions of dollars from his sizable fortune into an outside political action committee on his son’s behalf. The super PAC, Our Destiny, consistently raised two to three times as much money as Huntsman’s campaign each month, largely thanks to checks from the father. But Senior didn’t keep supporting Junior. After New Hampshire, there were no more big checks until after Junior dropped out of the race — which he did before South Carolina.
Huntsman wasn’t the only candidate who was able to stick around in 2012 thanks to a generous outside benefactor. The more notable example might be former speaker Newt Gingrich. His campaign fundraising outpaced Huntsman’s by a wide margin, but it was dwarfed by contributions from Nevada casino magnate Sheldon Adelson to a super PAC called Winning Our Future. The super PAC ended up spending $13 million supporting Gingrich — and $4 million bashing Mitt Romney — before the candidate dropped out.
Corporate Governance 

Covington: Responding to Corporate Political Disclosure Initiatives: A How-To Guide for In-House Counsel
SEC Rulemaking
Activists behind these shareholder resolutions have also attempted to make shareholder political spending resolutions unnecessary by pressuring the SEC to adopt a rule that requires public companies to disclose information about their political spending. In 2011, a group of academics filed a petition for rulemaking with the SEC asking the commission to develop rules related to “corporate political spending.” Although the details of what disclosure would look like are not fleshed out, the petition has prompted a record number of largely cookie-cutter comments from labor unions and members of the campaign finance reform community.
The CPA-Zicklin Index
First issued in 2010, the annual CPA-Zicklin index is a report jointly issued by the Center for Political Accountability—a non-profit group promoting corporate political spending disclosure— and the Zicklin Center for Business Ethics Research at the University of Pennsylvania. The report ranks the top 300 companies in the S&P 500 Index based on political spending scores, according to a metric created by CPA and the Zicklin Center. Companies receive up to 70 “points” for disclosing their political expenditures and spending practices on their websites. For example, they can receive 6 points for disclosing “payments to trade associations that the recipient organization may use for political purposes” and 6 points for disclosing similar payments to 501(c)(4) social welfare organizations. The two-dozen criteria in the Index are often arbitrary and vague. Moreover, they are moving targets year-to-year. Companies with low scores, however, can find themselves targets of litigation, shareholder resolutions, or public criticism.
Judicial Watch: New Documents: Lerner Objected to IRS Deputy Director Visit to Cincinnati Office During Congressional Inquiries into Tea Party Targeting
(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch today released a new batch of Internal Revenue Service (IRS) documents, including a series of emails from former IRS official Lois Lerner to then-Tax Exempt and Government Entities (TE/GE) Division Deputy Director Joseph H. Grant strongly objecting to his planned visit to the IRS Cincinnati office “smack dab in the middle” of congressional inquiries into the IRS targeting of conservative groups. Lerner also expresses concerns about a pending investigation by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) into the IRS’s handing of Tea Party applications.
The new IRS internal documents were released in response to a federal court order addressing the October 9, 2013, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuitJudicial Watch filed seeking compliance with four separate FOIA requests about the IRS scandal.
The newly released documents include an intense chain of emails in which Lerner pleads with Grant, who was a supervisor to her, to “put this [Grant’s planned visit to Cincinnati] off please” at the very time during which both the internal IRS watchdog and Congress were investigating whether the IRS had been inappropriately targeting conservative groups in the months leading up to the 2012 elections. The chain begins with an email from Lerner to Grant, apparently written in response to her learning of the Deputy Director’s planned visit to the Cincinnati office…

Watchdog.org: ‘Activist at heart’ Ann Ravel takes gavel at FEC
By MD Kittle
Rotunda and Ravel had their share of disagreements on the California commission, although Rotunda said he never found the chairwoman disagreeable. Just set in her ideological ways, predisposed to certain political prejudices.
None more so than Ravel’s distrust — and distaste — of forms of Internet-based political speech.
“She has a desire to decide things by trying to announce new definitions that sometimes don’t make a lot of sense,” Rotunda said. “When she talks about ‘dark money’ what she’s really talking about is trying to regulate the Internet, and she’s talked about it a lot.
State and Local

Virginia –– AP: Lawmaker: FBI investigating possible campaign theft
RICHMOND, Va. — A top-ranking Virginia state senator said Wednesday that the FBI has informed him someone stole about $600,000 from his campaign finance accounts.
Fairfax County Democrat Sen. Richard L. Saslaw told reporters that the FBI has informed him of an ongoing investigation that involves the theft campaign funds between 2013 and 2014.
Saslaw declined to say whom the FBI is investigating, but said, “They’re not investigating me.”

Scott Blackburn

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